Light. Dizzyingly bright lights. Pain. She found it hard to believe her eyes were open, staring out at the world but seeing nothing but the sharp white light. Was this what it felt like to be blind, Molly wondered? Science could only tell us so many direct answers so we knew what happened to the eyes when someone was permanently or temporarily blind, but it couldn’t convey such an intimate feeling as personally being blind did. She blinked, and slowly the world returned in shapes and blurs of colours, exceedingly fast. Wonderful, Molly thought, how fast the brain adjusted, how the pupils tightened and widened according to the amount of light in the room and the amount needed to see.
She sat up. After seeing such a bright light overhead and the room come into view, Molly decided she must’ve passed out on the floor of the morgue. Funny, she internally giggled, she wasn’t one to normally be squeamish. I work with corpses all day, of people I know, of people I don’t know… What could’ve possibly appeared in her morgue that sent her collapsing onto the floor?
Odd, Molly continued her train of thought. If she had passed out, why was she… why was she higher than floor-level? More specifically, why was she lying on one of the examination tables and why didn’t it feel cold – so cold it was almost biting and burning – like it was supposed to normally? And if she fell, having passed out, she logically knew that there should be a pounding in her head where it made contact with the floor. Happily, she was surprised that there wasn’t a pounding in her head and maybe she had gotten used to the temperature of the ice-slab worktop she called home.
It was when the white sheet that was covering her work clothes fell off of her that she noticed something was wrong. No one else was working in the lab at the morgue today. It was two in the morning when she was working and the other known being in the world who would ever come into St. Bart’s morgue that early without being deceased was Sherlock Holmes.
And… well… while technically he was alive, the whole world thought otherwise.
Why was there a sheet on her? And why had she fallen onto the table? Physically speaking, it was impossible for her to have fallen onto the table without having previously stood on something very high. And even so, she had been arranged in a perfect sleeping position, hands at her side, sheet pulled just up to her chin but folded neatly beneath.
Voices. She pushed herself off of the tabletop and raced towards the door. Everything felt surreal; like she had been on heavy doses of medication that left her brain addled and confused, blurring everything she thought she knew for certain. Molly pulled herself through the doorway, mouth open and gaping, closing and shutting and letting ‘the flies in and out’.
It was Dr. Macintosh. He was to take on Molly’s shift after 2:00 am.
She glanced at her watch, brows furrowing in confusion. It was half past seven. Impossible. Seven am? She tapped a blue, glossy fingernail against the top of her watch face. The watch was no longer ticking. The battery must’ve run out which would explain why she was so confused as to why the time did not match up with her internal clock settings, right?
Right. Molly nodded, and satisfied, began to think about all that needed to be done before Dr. Macintosh’s shift actually started. But as the portly man with a bristly moustache moved centre into Molly’s vision, she could see there were slight sparkles of moisture in the corners of his eyes and when he sighed and shook his head, staring at Molly but almost as though she weren’t entirely there…
Words formed, but they didn’t verbalize themselves. In a state of panic, Molly glanced down at herself. She was solid, as far as she could tell and besides – there were no such things as ghosts! At least. Well. That she knew. Well, there was always that little bit of doubt that permeated her thoughts, like that one time after her dad passed away (the same one, you know, that reminded her of Sherlock when he thought no one was looking) she swore she saw him everywhere, or felt him anyway. In otherwise meaningless things… like her cup of coffee, or the corridor in her flat.
No. No, Molly Hooper found herself most certainly solid. But not wearing her lab coat, which was funny because she swore she came home –
Came home… with it… on… Odd. Suddenly, she remembered going home to her flat after her shift ended, crossing the London streets to get to her new flat she relocated to after she kept receiving strange calls and messages from Jim from IT’s old mobile number and messenger. The new flat was a little bit smaller than her and her tabby cat Toby were used to, but it suited their needs, and in a rush it was all Molly could get – and anyway, the flat was closer to St. Bart’s but she still needed to cross a large intersection and she swore she remembered starting to cross it –
White, blinding light pierced through Molly’s thoughts, punching a hole in the fabric of her consciousness and sending her mind spinning ever so briefly. Her body shuddered. An impact. There was an impact, damage to the ribs and lungs but impossible an impact the force of what she was feeling now, the feeling that made her want to get to her knees, drop everything and sob uncontrollably and sleep for eternity (though all she could do was grasp her middle and double over in agony)… it would’ve killed her.
Dr. Macintosh seemed oblivious to Molly’s sudden pain, crouched over at one end of the examination table, far from the freezer lockers that kept other recent specimens awaiting autopsy, examination, or preparation. She pulled her hands from her abdomen, looking for traces of blood, and quickly she pulled up the hem of her cardigan to find no bruising, no lesions, nothing.
She managed to stand up, and attempted to speak with Dr. Macintosh but the man was always very distant. Working in a morgue could cause people to fall away from live human beings, and you begin to live with the dead, day after day. But he could not hear her. Or see her. Or … anything…
Impossible. Molly placed a hand to her mouth as irresistible, hysterical giggles exploded and the sharp intense pain and white light increased and flooded her vision when Molly looked down at the examination table…
…only to see that her body was still there.
“I’ll be back later this morning, Cate.”
“You working late again? You shouldn’t work so much, Molly – you’ll tire yourself out in a heartbeat!” A receptionist in the front of St. Bart’s named Cate had an overlapping shift with Molly’s at the morgue, so it was always pleasant to see a familiar face when leaving to back home in the wee hours of the morning. Cate was always looking after Molly’s health, and even a few times the girls had gone out for a few drinks, which usually ended in Molly proclaiming that she had had far too much and would spill every feeling she had ever had about anyone she ever met.
Most of the time it was Jim, though she was over him – she was very proud of herself for breaking it off without too much sadness on either end – and Sherlock.
Molly shouldered her bag and nodded, a brief tired smile warming her face ever so slightly. “No one else wants to come in, and Dave – ”
Cate stopped her. “Dr Macintosh?”
“Yes,” Molly corrected herself and a blush tinged her cheeks, “Dr Macintosh and I have a body to examine before a court ruling next week and the funeral shortly after. Fascinating, he was stabbed in the ba – ”
“Absolutely intriguing,” Cate cut her off quickly, her face almost blanching immediately. Cate, though working in a hospital and seeing gruesome things happen nearly ever day, did not like to hear of what happened on Molly’s end of the hospital in too much detail. “Go home, dear. Get some rest before you come back, settle down with a cuppa and go to bed.”
Touched by Cate’s concern again and again, Molly nodded, pushed open the swinging door and set off into the 2:00 am streets of London. Of course, the streets were never too dark. You could see easily without a torch on the main roads, and the back alleys were dodgy in daylight so Molly knew to easily avoid those. Walking home was easier to the new flat than it was to the old one.
One big street crossing and then she was homeward bound.
The problem was the street, once Molly reached it, was always needlessly busy except for the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, those very hours were the hours Molly got off of her shift. It was more or less getting to work on time trying to cross the street that was the primary issue.
No cars on the road tonight. It had been raining earlier that day and though the closeness of the buildings in London drew in heat and sapped up some moisture from the roads, they were still very wet and damp. With a sudden chill running down her back, she knew no more as headlights careened down the road, wheels squelching to a frantic stop, and the impact of her body thrown against and nearly underneath the large truck maneuvering its way through the streets.
When Molly opened her eyes after the lucid flashback (was flashback the right word? Molly wondered), Dr Macintosh was gone. The sheet had been pulled over the body lying on the examination table (my body, Molly kindly reminded herself) and the little identification tag was neatly tucked underneath a bulge that was the hand, neatly concealed by the bright starchy white sheet.
Cautiously, dots of light spotting her vision, Molly reached out and let her hand hover ever so carefully over the identification card. It was face up, if she could just maneuver the body ever so slightly… she found herself wondering if she could touch other objects. She had decided that if she was dead, she was dead. That’s the end of it. She had to accept death every day when she was living, even with people she loved (like her dad, and Sherlock’s faked death) on occasion, so she might as well continue that tradition her own afterlife.
Was this afterlife? Molly held a hand against her pounding head and with the other shakingly reached out to gently nudge the body over.
It worked. Her cold dead body scooted over slightly and the identification card was revealed to speak what Molly had been thinking the entire time.
Dr Molly Jean Hooper, age 32, Female, Caucasian, Traffic Victim.
Traffic victim. The words were unyielding. Familiar, but also unfamiliar. She was a traffic victim. She really, and truly, was dead.